Heritage Category: Listed Building

Grade: II*

List Entry Number: 1281677

Date first listed: 08-May-1950



Ordnance survey map of PRIEST'S HOUSE
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Kent

District: Ashford (District Authority)

Parish: Tenterden

National Grid Reference: TQ 89342 30146


This List entry was subject to a Minor Enhancement on 27/06/2017

TQ 83 SE, 3/83

SMALLHYTHE ROAD (east side), Priest's House




HISTORY: a late-C15 or early-C16 house, possibly rebuilt after a disastrous fire of 1514 when the adjoining Church of St John and a number of houses in the village were rebuilt. Smallhythe had an important shipbuilding industry from the later Middle Ages and it is thought that Sir Robert Brygantyne, born circa 1465 lived and worked in this house before he became Clerk of Ships to Henry VII and Henry VIII from 1495-1523, and supervised, among other ships, the design and construction of the ‘Mary Rose’.

The building is shown as a vicarage on the 1870 and 1898 25 inch Ordnance Survey maps. From 1899 Edith (Edy) Craig (1869-1947, the daughter of Victorian actress Ellen Terry lived at Priest’s House, which stood in the grounds of her mother’s home, Smallhythe Place. Craig was a successful theatre producer, director and costumier and was actively involved in the suffrage movement.

Craig lived at Priest’s House in a ‘menage a trois’ with her female partners Chris St John (Christobel Marshall) a writer and Tony (Clare) Atwood an artist. Suffrage activists were welcomed to Priest’s House along with other women visitors with same-sex relationships, included the writers Virginia Woolf, Vita Sackville-West and Radclyffe Hall.

After Ellen Terry’s death in 1928, Edy Craig turned Smallhythe Place into a museum, and she, Marshall and Atwood took visitors on tours. She also converted the Smallhythe garden barn into the Barn Theatre and in 1931 established the Barn Theatre Society.

St John and Atwood were buried together in the neighbouring churchyard of St John’s and a memorial plaque to Craig was placed alongside them in 2012.


A house of late C15 or early C16, which has a small north-east C18 extension.

MATERIALS: close-studded timber-framing with rendered infill. The later extension is tile-hung. Steeply pitched hipped tiled roof with gablets, with an off central brick ridge chimneystack and an external brick chimneystack to the north-east.

PLAN: a two-storey continuous jetty house of three bays with a small later north-east L-wing.

EXTERIOR: the west or entrance front has three casement windows with small square panes, one with wooden mullions and a moulded bressumer beneath and two obtusely pointed doorways with carved spandrels. The north side retains three original blocked window openings and the eastern part is tile-hung. The south end is weatherboarded. The east side has exposed curved wind-braces to the upper floor.

St John the Baptist's Church and Priest's House form a group,

Listing NGR: TQ8934230146


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 179817

Legacy System: LBS


Books and journals
Childs, David, The Warship Mary Rose: the life and Times of King Henry VIII’s flagship, (2014)

End of official listing